After several conversations where people have asked me whether I keep a journal, I decided to log into Diaro and start again. One person (Bill Gaudet) was instrumental in convincing me that I need to at least capture the story of how Jen and I got to where we are today in relation to missions, so here it goes.
As far back as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by how people in other countries live. What food do they eat? What is their day-to-day life like? How (and what/who) do they worship? At first, it was a merely intellectual curiosity that led me to focusing on studying anthropology and sociology for almost 2 years of my first trip through college. But as I deepened my walk with Christ, that interest began to focus more and more on the spiritual aspect of people’s lives–and eventually began to settle on a desire to head overseas as a missionary.
The process of building a desire to serve people overseas started even before I met Jen when I read a book about a Roman Catholic priest serving in India. I’ve long since lost the book, and cannot remember the title, but the thought of bringing peace and comfort to those who live in areas of the world where that seems like a fleeting dream stuck with me. I would talk with Jen about this idea and she seemed to be on board with it, so we agreed to at least attempt to head into cross-cultural mission work at that point in our lives about 20 years ago.
However, I was still an impetuous young man and not truly ready to completely let go of the reigns of “my” life. Besides, Jen wasn’t thrilled about the idea of going to Africa (where all the “cool” kids were going at the time). Furthermore, I had made what I considered an attempt at stepping into ministry that had failed. After talking through some of these thoughts with my pastor at the time, I decided to apply to a bible college. So as I filled out the application, I prayed that God would show me whether or not he wanted us to go into the missions field through the results of the application. My “fleece” was that if more than half of the credits I had earned from the secular college I attended transferred to the bible college, I would take that as meaning I needed to complete bible college then head to the field. Imagine my surprise when none of the credits transferred (I wasn’t a stellar student, but you’d figure at LEAST English or math would be good???). So, I talked it through with my pastor and some trusted elders and they seemed to agree that this was a sign that God did not want me to go into missions. Besides, I had my own plan and figured that I would be quite comfortable chasing the American Dream. So, I discarded that idea and tried to move on. And my story will continue from there next time.
But before I wrap up, I want to share one final observation that it took almost 20 years for me to make in hopes that someone else finds it useful. I’ve come to realize that while the act of laying out the fleece might have seemed noble and biblical, it wasn’t really. What was really going on was I was telling God how I wanted to do things instead of recognizing His sovereignty. In the end, I was choosing to do things MY way over following the path that God had set before me. Do I spend time looking back wondering what would have happened if I chose differently? Not really. But I will say that the road I chose wasn’t nearly as comfortable as it appeared to be.